A late converted try from Sale's Rob Miller sealed defeat for Bath Rugby in what had otherwise been a close affair at Edgeley Park. Final Score 16-9.
The visitors started the game well, building good pressure early on through a number of phases. This paid off within two minutes when they were awarded a penalty, but young fly-half Tom Heathcote couldn't quite find his angle.
Sale looked dangerous in attack though, and it took some staunch defence from Bath to stop the home side from breaching the try line. Breaks from Andy Powell and Sam Tuitupou looked threatening, but the visitors held firm and overturned the ball, allowing Olly Barkley to clear.
A deliberate knock-on from Sale just under 20 minutes into the game gave Barkley the chance to kick the ball to touch, and the resulting line-out saw Andrew Sheridan earn a yellow card after Sale brought down a man in the lineout for the second time. Barkley slotted the resulting penalty, and gave Bath a slim 0-3 lead.
The first half continued in the pacy style it had begun, with both sides trying to get some fluidity into the game. Sale continued to exert pressure, and whilst the defence of Bath continued to hold them away from the try line, the persistence of the home side told, with two penalties being awarded in the last ten minutes. Fly-half Nick Macleod was accurate with both, first drawing level and then securing a three point lead to take into half time. 6-3.
The second half started in much the same way as the first had, with both teams trying hard to create chances and gain dominance in the game. Sale were enjoying the majority of the possession though, and it took a great try saving tackle from Nick Abendanon on his opposite number to prevent Sale from increasing their lead, winning a penalty in the process, and allowing Bath to clear their lines and relieve the pressure.
The respite was fleeting though, and Macleod extended their lead moments later with another penalty. Barkley responded soon after with a penalty of his own, bringing Bath back to within three points, and drew level on the 63rd minute after the Bath pack won at penalty at the scrum. 9-9.
The scores remained level going into the final ten minutes, reflecting the close nature of the game, and it took an unlucky bounce off a high ball to break the deadlock. Bath put up the high ball, and after it fell awkwardly, Sale fullback Miller hacked through and chased. A straight footrace between the two fullbacks ensued, and whilst it looked like Miller had taken Abendanon off the ball, the TMO awarded the try. Macleod secured the conversion. 16-9.
With little time remaining on the clock, the Bath boys didn't give up, attacking hard and putting together a string of phases following a missed penalty attempt by Macleod. Their efforts went unrewarded, but they did leave Edgeley Park with the bonus point.